As it became clear late last night that the UK would be voting to leave the European Union, some golf fans started to wonder whether Britain’s unexpected exit would have any implications for the Ryder Cup, set to be played at Hazeltine in the fall. In the current Ryder Cup point standings, six of the nine golfers eligible for Team Europe are British.
The European Tour quickly released a statement saying that the referendum would have “no bearing in Ryder Cup qualification terms.” A spokesperson explained: “The criteria for being European in Ryder Cup terms is a geographical one (ie from countries who make up the continent of Europe) not a political or economic one (ie countries who make up the EU).” Although the European Tour does not expect the political turmoil in Britain to change the Tour schedule, its headquarters are in the UK.
“Like all global companies whose main headquarters are in the UK, we are now in the process of assessing the implications for our business,” the statement said. Additionally, a second referendum on Scottish independence is highly likely, a move that could someday have repercussions for some of golf’s oldest and most prestigious clubs and tournaments.
Since the 1970s, the Ryder Cup has been a competition between the United States and Europe (before 1979, continental golfers were excluded, and the matches were technically between the British/Irish and the Americans). The team flies the same the blue and gold flag that the European Union uses.
The American squad could use a boost any way it can get it: Team USA has lost three straight matches to Europe.